Texas senators heard testimony Monday on the Texas Heartbeat Act, a bill that could protect more than 10,000 unborn babies from abortion each year.
Gov. Greg Abbott and state Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, introduced the legislation earlier this month. The bill would require abortionists to check for a baby’s heartbeat and prohibit the abortion if it is detected. It would create criminal penalties for abortionists who violate the measure.
“Ten other states have passed heartbeat bills, we have to admit Texas is behind,” Hughes said, KTRE News 9 reports. “This bill will protect the lives of our most precious Texans starting at the moment that little heart is beating.”
John Seago, legislative director of Texas Right to Life, said the bill could save 10,000 unborn babies from abortion every year in the state. He also said the language in the bill will help withstand a legal challenge.
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Lawmakers also listened to testimony from Misty Tate, a sonographer in the state who has helped many mothers to see their unborn babies for the first time. She played recordings of a six-week unborn baby’s heartbeat and a late-term unborn baby’s heartbeat.
“When you hear these heartbeats, can you tell the difference? Why is one of these heartbeats protected while the other is not?” Tate asked.
Afterward, Texas Right to Life praised Hughes for showing “grace and diplomacy in conversing with the witnesses,” including people who oppose his pro-life bill.
A number of states have passed heartbeat laws in recent years, but all have been banned from enforcing them due to legal challenges by abortion activist groups. States with heartbeat laws include Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio and Tennessee. South Carolina also passed a heartbeat law in February.
Americans support strong limits on abortion. A 2019 Hill-HarrisX survey found that 55 percent of voters said they do not think laws banning abortions after six weeks – when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable – are too restrictive. Gallup polls also consistently have found that a majority of Americans think all or most abortions should be illegal.
Some pro-lifers have renewed hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold an abortion ban and overturn Roe v. Wade. Others, however, are hesitant because of concerns about losing the court battle and being forced to reimburse pro-abortion groups for their legal fees.
Though a majority of the justices are Republican appointees, Chief Justice John Roberts has sided with the liberal justices on a number of occasions.
In 1973, the Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe v. Wade, and instead forced states to legalize abortion on demand. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.